Game Day Preview: Old friends do battle

The Hockey News
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Looking forward to the eight games on tap Tuesday night, which features Ryan Suter’s second return to Nashville and Cory Schneider’s expected first head-to-head match against Roberto Luongo.

Colorado at Toronto
The Maple Leafs and Avalanche enter tonight’s contest as two of the final six teams who are undefeated as of yet. The last time they met was almost two years ago on Oct. 17 2011 where the Avalanche were triumphant in overtime at the ACC. Captain Gabriel Landeskog is set to make his return after missing game 2 with a minor leg injury. Jonathan Bernier made 15 clutch stops in relief on Saturday against the Senators and will likely get the nod tonight.

First overall draft pick is off to a fiery start with Colorado earning three assists in the first two games of his career, including a couple dandies. (Mile High Hockey)

Mason Raymond has been the surprise for Toronto early in the season picking up four points and a shootout winner in his first three appearances. (Toronto Maple Leafs)

Player to Watch: Colorado’s X-Factor this season is Semyon Varlamov and the (very) early returns are promising. Through two starts he’s 2-0-0 with a 1.00 GAA and .968 SP in wins over Anaheim and Nashville. Tonight is Colorado’s first road game – can “Varly” keep it up?

Phoenix at NY Islanders
Phoenix makes its first trip to Long Island in almost three years where both teams will play for win number two. Goalie Mike Smith is undefeated against the Islanders in three starts with a 1.00 GAA. New York netminder Evgeni Nabokov has also experienced some success against tonight’s foe with a 4-2-1 record and a 2.21 GAA. John Tavares bounced back after a disappointing season opener by setting up both goals in the loss to Columbus.

The Coyotes play six of their first eight games on the road, with tonight being the first of four in a row. (Phoenix Coyotes)

After taking three of a possible four points to start the season, Nabokov noted “October is important, but so is February. So is April. Consistency is what we need most, for the whole season.” (Rant Sports)

Player To Watch: If the Islanders get some consistent secondary scoring, they’re team becomes so much more dangerous. The biggest threat in that regard is Michael Grabner, who has been lights-out with two goals and three points through the first two games.

Florida at Philadelphia
It’s no secret where the scoop lies in tonight’s matchup – the Flyers playing their first game after firing coach Peter Laviolette and being one of five teams without a win thus far. Craig Berube takes over and will do is best to ignite a fire under the bottoms of a Flyer squad who have scored three goals in three games. The Panthers will do their best to mimic their efforts from game one after a 7 – 0 spanking to the Blues in game two.

Florida took two of three games against Philly last year. Marcel Goc has two goals in his first two games. (Florida Panthers)

The Schenn brothers have combined for 66.7% of Philadelphia’s offensive output thus far. (Yahoo Sports)

Player To Watch: Scott Hartnell either had a down year in the lockout shortened 2013 season, or started to show age. His first three games this season haven’t been great either, with zero points and a minus-1 rating. He’s a scorer for the Flyers, who have had trouble scoring so far – a big reason why Peter Laviolette was fired as coach. Hartnell needs to get in gear yesterday.

Carolina at Pittsburgh
The Canes and Pens square off for the first of four meetings as they become division foes for the first time. They combined for seven of a possible eight points in the first week of play. Surprisingly, the Hurricanes’ top unit of Eric Staal, Alexander Semin and Jiri Tlusty have a bunch of doughnuts through their first two games, with Jeff Skinner picking up the slack in the meantime. Pittsburgh have only allowed one goal as Marc Andre-Fleury continues his stellar regular season play.

Sidney Crosby has two goals in two games to start the year, but has never been able to do so in three straight. (Yahoo Sports)

Cam Ward is 5-2-2 and sports a 1.85 GAA in his last nine games against the Penguins. (Carolina Hurricanes)

Player To Watch: The leader of Carolina’s offense, Eric Staal, has been held pointless so far. Carolina needs his – and everyone else’s – scoring, too, since their defense is so bad. I mean, just look at this tying goal in the dying seconds of their opening game against Detroit. The overtime marker was equally as bad. Carolina has the capacity to hand over close games because of their defensive zone coverage and need all the goals they can get.

Tampa Bay at Buffalo
With a combined two of a possible 10 points the Lightning and Sabres have not looked very sharp, though that’s mostly due to Buffalo owning the league’s only other 0-3-0 record. They’ve managed a measly two goals in three games in unsurprisingly lackluster performances. After beginning the season on the road against the defending Stanley Cup finalists, the Lightning will be happy to finish the road trip against a Sabres team with no clear identity this season.

Captain Martin St. Louis has 914 points in his career, placing him one shy of Bobby Orr. (Tampa Bay Lightning)

Though Buffalo has been dismal offensively, Ryan Miller has been a beacon of hope stopping 77 of 80 shots in his two starts. (Yahoo Sports)

Player To Watch: Much of Buffalo’s smooth transition to a bright future relies on the development of Mikahil Grigorenko, 12th overall pick in 2012. He had five points in 25 games last season and has been held off the board through three games this season.

Minnesota at Nashville
As the only teams in the Western Conference without a victory, at least one team will be able to escape tonight with a little bit of early-season dignity. This will be the eighth Predators home opener Ryan Suter will suit up for, though he was with Nashville for seven of them. Suter registered one assist in his return to Bridgestone arena last year and was greeted with a chorus of boos every time he touched the puck.

Center Charlie Coyle is expected to miss 3-4 weeks after a neutral zone check from Andrew Cogliano in Saturday’s game against the Ducks. (Yahoo Sports)

Preds youngster Filip Forsberg makes his return tonight after missing the previous two weeks with a lower body injury. (On The Forecheck)

Player to Watch: This one’s easy – Ryan Suter. Let’s see what his second welcome back to Nashville sounds like. Here’s betting it won’t be any prettier than the last. It’s Nashville’s home opener to boot!

New Jersey at Vancouver
The Devils roll into town in search of their first win, though they only sit two points behind the Canucks with their two shootout losses. This is their first visit to British Columbia in three years, and it will be a doozy as former backup Cory Schneider gets the nod. Rookie backup Eddie Lack won in his first start against the Flames on Saturday which means Roberto Luongo will go toe-to-toe with his old student.

“When we got Cory, and then I got the schedule, it became a no-brainer, I didn’t have to spend a lot of time on it,” said Devils coach Pete DeBoer. (New Jersey Devils)

The Canucks have won eight of the last 10 meetings and Luongo himself has won four straight with three shutouts. (Yahoo Sports)

Player To Watch: There are two in this game – Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo. The two heated (OK, not so much) rivals are expected to go head-to-head Tuesday night for the first time since Schneider was dealt to New Jersey.

NY Rangers at San Jose
Alain Vigneault recorded his first win as Rangers coach in captain Ryan Callahan’s return to the lineup. Tonight’s tilt is the third of nine straight on the road for New York. San Jose looks to remain undefeated after a couple of 4-1 victories against the Canucks and Coyotes. Veteran netminder Anti Niemi sports a 1.00 GAA and a .956 save percentage.

Rookie Tomas Hertl has two goals in his first two games. Logan Couture and Marc-Edouard Vlasic share the team lead with three points each. (San Jose Sharks)

The Rangers thought they may have lost Callahan to another injury after he left the game in the second period with a mouth injury, but he soon returned. (Yahoo Sports)

Player To Watch: Tomas Hertl has made his presence felt early in the Calder Trophy race with two goals and three points in two games. Obviously this pace is unsustainable, but how far can the 19-year-old Czech take it?